Active energetic happy elderly female with gray hair enjoying physical exercises indoors, training at home using dumbbells, smiling broadly

Strength Training Exercises for Seniors

Incorporating strength training into your workout regimen is so important especially as you age. And while you know you need to stay active as you age to prevent falls and a whole host of chronic diseases, strength training can still be really intimidating, even if you did it when you were younger. In this article, we’ll go over some tips for safe and effective strength training and some of the best strength training exercises for seniors to try if you’re just starting out. 

Tips for Starting Strength Training 

It’s important to note that before starting any new workout regimen, you should talk to your doctor to make sure it’s safe for you to do so. Additionally, a personal trainer or fitness class can often be very helpful in starting something new safely. SCOA offers a chair fitness class a few times a month that works to build strength, in addition to other things, in a safe, guided environment. 

If you have talked to your doctor and know it’s safe for you to start strength training on your own, here are a few tips: 

  • To start, focus on performing exercises using your bodyweight, rather than trying to head for equipment you’re not sure how to use or weights that are simply too heavy for you. 
  • When doing bodyweight movements, aim for three sets of 10-15 reps each. Once this feels easy, you can add in weights. 
  • When you are ready to start with weights, start with the smallest weights available. 
  • Resistance bands can be a great alternative to free weights if you need an alternative. 
  • Start off slow and keep resistance training short and sweet. Don’t try to overdo it immediately and injure yourself. 
  • Give your body plenty of time to recover as exercise recovery often takes longer as we get older. 

Top Five Strength Training Exercises for Seniors 

If you’re ready to start some simple strength training, these five exercises are a great starting point. They focus on bodyweight, but have the option of adding weight as you become more comfortable. 

  • Squat: Stand up straight with your feet shoulder to hip width apart, and hold your arms straight out in front of you at about shoulder level. Brace your core and then push your hips back, bending your knees slowly to lower your body into a squat. Don’t let your knees cave in as you do. Pause for a moment and then push up through your heels to slowly return to the position you started in. 
  • Incline pushup: Stand up facing a wall, table, or other piece of furniture. The taller the object you are using, the easier this exercise will be. Place your hands on the surface or edge, a little bit wider than shoulder-width apart, and move your feet back until you are at a comfortable angle. Keep your arms straight and perpendicular to your body. Then, bend your elbows to slowly lower your chest toward the object, pause, and press back up to straighten your arms. Keep your body straight through the whole movement, engaging your core and bottom. As you get stronger, rather than adding in weights, you can reduce the incline, or height of the object you are bracing yourself on. 
  • Seated Row: Sit with your legs out and place the center of a resistance band behind the arches of your feet. If your exercise band is long, you can loop it around your feet twice, so it’s taut when you hold it. Grab the ends of the band with both hands with your arms extended and palms facing each other. Sitting up straight, pull your shoulder blades down and back, and bend at the elbows to slowly bull the band toward your core. Drive your elbows straight back, but do not let them flare to the sides. Slowly reverse the movement to return to the starting position. 
  • Stationary Lunge: Stand up straight with your arms down by your sides. Step back with your right food, placing your toes on the ground and keeping your heel lifted. From this stance, bend your front (left) knew to slowly lower your body as far as is comfortable. Allow your back knee to bend as well until it hovers a few inches above the floor. Keep your weight pressed into your front heel, and draw your lower belly in, lifting your chest. With this exercise, you want to make sure you’re working both sides evenly so aim for 10-15 reps on each side. 
  • Dead Bug: Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Raise your bent legs up so your knees are over your hips, keeping a 90 degree bend in your knees. Brace your core to press your lower back into the floor and make sure to maintain this flat-back position throughout the entire exercise. With your palms facing each other, bring your arms up to point toward the ceiling. Straighten your left leg and bring it toward the floor, but try not to let it touch the floor. At the same time, bring your right arm back toward the floor, again, trying not to let it touch. Pause, then bring your arm and leg back to the starting position. Repeat on the. Opposite side with your right left and left arm extended.